Greater Greater Washington

Weekend video: Metro's Christmas caroler returns

For 10 straight years a man known as the Metro caroler has been singing Christmas songs while riding the train.

Metro has a reputation as tame compared to the daily wildness of New York's subway. There are relatively few buskers, panhandlers, or other attention-seekers on trains in DC. Nevertheless, during the holiday season and the colder months of winter some public characters do emerge. The caroler is one of my favorites.

Here he is making his first appearance of this season.

John Muller is an associate librarian, journalist and historian. He has written two books, Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC, Mark Twain in Washington, DC, and also writes at Death and Life of Old Anacostia

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Are you sure it hasn't been more than ten years? He was on the Orange Line train back when I lived in Vienna.

And he's not just a Christmas caroler. He used to sing religious music all year long. Maybe someone clued him in that he would be better received if he only sang Christmas music, but that hasn't always been his modus operandi.

About a decade ago, I was on a train between Dunn Loring and West Falls Church when he started to sing and another passenger told him to shut up. When the singer started again, the other passenger stood up and told him to [STFU], that no one wanted to hear him, and that he would make him stop if he didn't. The guy did in fact stop singing and made a beeline out at West Falls Church.

While I did not agree with the other passenger's threat, I do believe that this man is a nuisance to other riders and that he should have been banned from riding a long time ago.

by Craig on Dec 3, 2011 1:53 pm • linkreport

Saw this guy back when I was in high school. He is a real class act and hes got a decent voice. Didn't realize he was a habitual caroler

by Z in CP on Dec 3, 2011 1:55 pm • linkreport

The caroler is one of my favorites.

Really? The guy subjects riders to his religious singing without a license (and busking shouldn't occur on trains anyway, especially during peak hours). Some of us are trying to enjoy some peace and quiet so we can read, listen to an ipod, or otherwise relax.

About a decade ago, I was on a train between Dunn Loring and West Falls Church when he started to sing and another passenger told him to shut up

I was last on a train with the "caroler" a few days ago during the morning rush when someone asked him forcefully to stop singing and subjecting everyone to his religion. That didn't stop him, though.

by Falls Church on Dec 3, 2011 3:46 pm • linkreport

There are plenty of better places to find an audience than a subway car where people are locked in with no escape.

by mike on Dec 3, 2011 4:20 pm • linkreport

I love this guy! Does he do office parties?

Also, DC does need to loosen up. This guy is a real treat.

by Jennifer Shapiro on Dec 3, 2011 5:06 pm • linkreport

I, too, don't much care for his singing of hymns all year 'round.

by Capt. Hilts on Dec 3, 2011 5:54 pm • linkreport

Lame. Baltimore has it better -- a full-on train display AND Santa every Saturday! Come on, WMATA, step up your game!

by Drake Perth on Dec 3, 2011 10:58 pm • linkreport

One of the charms of other transit systems is the busking and entertainment that comes with the ride. Only in DC does it turn into a First Amendment freedom-from-religion issue.

by aaa on Dec 3, 2011 11:31 pm • linkreport

For those of you who are pooh-poohing the annoyance that several of us have felt toward this man, can you answer honestly that if you were approached by preachers of any religion on a train who refused to stop proselytizing at the top of their lungs to the whole car that you wouldn't be perturbed too?

I frankly don't care whether he's selling religion or Coca-Cola; the fact that he imposes on other riders who are locked into riding with him is sufficient reason to be annoyed.

Of course, you are welcome to have it your way, but please don't complain to me when the preachers on the corner of 7th and H NW with their ephods and loudspeakers decide to move their game underground too.

by Craig on Dec 4, 2011 12:25 am • linkreport

If I didn't know the words already, I wouldn't know what the heck he was saying!

by Jerry A. McCoy on Dec 4, 2011 7:39 am • linkreport

Stop being scrooges. He gets on the car, sings one song, tells everyone to have a nice day, then gets off on the next stop. Get over it. Find something important to freak out about.

by crin on Dec 4, 2011 8:43 am • linkreport

Amen, crin. Seriously, folks. Get over your puffed up selves. It's a guy singing carols on a train. I've seen fistfights, mothers walloping their kids, teenagers reducing other riders to tears with their insults and bullying, people pushing fellow riders down the escalators for not "walking fast enough" and any number of other various and sundry misbehavior on the train over the years. This ranks pretty low on the list of problems to "solve".

by Mike O on Dec 4, 2011 10:41 am • linkreport

I enjoyed two buskers on the Blue-Orange platform of Metro Center on Friday. They were/are two older black men who sang carols and others songs. Their singing style was gentle, cheerful and not obstrusive to those not wishing to pay attention. Folks dropped money into their hat.

They were very well received by all.

The 'caroler' who is the subject here is an evangelical fellow who does it all year 'round. I'd rather he didn't.

by Capt. Hilts on Dec 4, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

"Stop being scrooges"? "Get over your puffed up selves"?

Your words betray your biases. "puffed up" is straight out of Corinthians in the KJV, and "Scrooge" is from "The Christmas Carol".

May I recommend that you recognize that not everyone shares your religious leanings, nor wishes to be *confined in a space* where they are forced to listen to open proselytizing to the same? On a platform, as in Capt Hilts' example, one has the option of moving away from the intrusion. In a train car, until we rebuild our fleet to resemble something like Amtrak, you're trapped.

I'm inclined to think, we should reintroduce smoking to trains while we're at it. After all, you're choosing to ride and if you don't like it, you can always get off the train.

by Craig on Dec 4, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

Craig, on one of Toronto's new open concept subway trains it wouldn't be as big a deal:

http://www.cbc.ca/gfx/images/news/photos/2010/12/23/toronto-rocket-ryan-flores-credit.jpg

by Capt. Hilts on Dec 4, 2011 2:04 pm • linkreport

I don't see any problem with it as long as all religious groups are allowed to sing and perform on closed subway cars for captive audiences.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vORB5eihWB4

Then again, I've only been down in the Metro twice since CaBi opened, so it's easy for me to be blase about other people's ears.

by oboe on Dec 4, 2011 2:14 pm • linkreport

I was waiting for Capt Hilts' point. If you can move away from a busker in a reasonable amount of time without delaying your trip, nobody minds. In a closed Metro car, someone who wants to be heard can force you to be within 35 feet of their mouth. This feeling of being trapped extends to anyone a passenger may feel is threatening or annoying. The isolation of cars also makes temporary escalator-proximity crowding much worse than it has to be.

Fully open traincars are not simple to graft onto a system this old, but Metro's 75ft cars do not work as independent units. They are permanently joined into 150ft long pairs, and some functions are only present on the front or back car of the pair. All the yards and maintenance facilities are designed to work in 150ft units. I don't see why they couldn't implement articulated connectors between permanently adjacent cabins.

by Squalish on Dec 4, 2011 7:25 pm • linkreport

Yeah, this is low down the list of problems to solve but lets not encourage the guy.

Also, I don't like how if you dont fully embrace christmas like its of your own religion, its reason to call you a "scrooge".

by Falls Church on Dec 4, 2011 8:07 pm • linkreport

I must have been on the same train. I lived in Annandale 10 years ago and commuted from Dunn Loring into DC. I remember him start singing and I recall a guy telling him to shut up.

by Ex Annadale Resident on Dec 4, 2011 9:53 pm • linkreport

i drive and hence i never have to hear him.

by baller on Dec 4, 2011 11:34 pm • linkreport

As some have mentioned, the
"Metro Doo Woop"
group has been performing within the system, on the station platforms, for many years. I have mainly seem them on the Red Line over the years but I know they get around.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01N63vsHYK8&feature=channel_video_title

I have only seen the "Metro Caroler" during the holiday season. I only take the train into VA a couple times a year and have never gone as far as Falls Church side. I obvisouly hadn't heard of his reputation out there. When I saw him last week, I asked him how long he had been performing XMAS songs and he said for ten years.

I think he is pretty harmless. I can't speak for him, but my interpretation is he is spreading the Holiday/XMAS spirit, not his religiosity. He adds character.

by John Muller on Dec 5, 2011 7:47 am • linkreport

Subway proselytizers are so much better in NYC.

by spookiness on Dec 5, 2011 12:43 pm • linkreport

Only in DC does it turn into a First Amendment freedom-from-religion issue.

Maybe because we're the only ones educated enough to know what the first amendment is :)

by Scoot on Dec 5, 2011 2:11 pm • linkreport

Now only if someone could put a muzzle on the Green line's morning evangelist.

by HogWash on Dec 5, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

I agree with Craig and Falls Church. This guy is awful. It might be only 5 minutes or so that you're trapped on the car with him, but it feels longer (and often is, given how slowly Metro runs at times). He's very loud, so it's impossible to concentrate on your reading or whatever you're trying to do. He's a terrible, droning singer. And he's rude -- a couple years ago, I saw a man very politely suggest to the singer that his singing might be disturbing people who were trying to read or have a conversation, and the singer replied, "F--- you." Real Christian of him. I wish he'd get a couple citations for creating a disturbance -- then maybe he'd leave us in peace.

by Kits on Dec 5, 2011 3:53 pm • linkreport

Bah humbug! ;-)

by Matt G on Dec 6, 2011 7:55 am • linkreport

I actually heard this guy on the Red line yesterday on my way to Silver Spring in the AM rush. I have to be honest...I really just wanted to read my newspaper in silence like I do every morning at the butt crack of dawn. :-P

by Matt Glazewski on Dec 6, 2011 8:05 am • linkreport

Is this the same guy who sings religious songs year-round at Columbus Circle? He's not there every morning, but it seems like he's there about once or twice a week, especially in the summer.

by ObliviousScout on Dec 27, 2011 5:09 pm • linkreport

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